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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Byrnes may swerve Cheltenham as Aintree appeals for Solwhit

Published 07/02/2013 | 04:00

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19 January 2013; Solwhit, with Davy Russell up, on their way to winning the Limestone Lad Hurdle. Naas Racecourse, Naas, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
19 January 2013; Solwhit, with Davy Russell up, on their way to winning the Limestone Lad Hurdle. Naas Racecourse, Naas, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Charles Byrnes has strongly suggested that Solwhit will be freshened up for a trip to Aintree in April rather than tackle the World Hurdle at Cheltenham.

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Since returning from nearly two years off after Christmas, the six-time Grade One winner has looked in excellent shape, finishing second to Bog Warrior at Punchestown before scooting up over most of the two-and-a-half miles at Naas.

As a result, the 2010 Irish Champion Hurdle hero trades at a top-priced 14/1 for the World Hurdle, but a tilt at the Aintree Hurdle – in which he first announced his fantastic talent courtesy of a stunning triumph four years ago – is being considered instead.

"I don't know whether he'll go to Cheltenham at this stage," the Co Limerick handler said.

"I'd say it's 50-50 at best he'll run there. We will leave him in the World Hurdle, but it might be more likely we'll wait for the Aintree Hurdle.

"We gave him a few weeks off after his last run as he came back very light. He had two hard races quite close together, so we had to back off him."

Tom Mullins, however, is looking forward to returning to Prestbury Park with last year's game JP McManus-owned County Hurdle winner Alderwood, following an encouraging second to Lastoftheleaders in the Dan Moore at Punchestown on Sunday.

"I thought he ran a cracker, considering it was his first run in a really competitive handicap over fences," Mullins reported.

"I haven't had the nod from JP or Frank (Berry, McManus' racing manager) yet, but you'd imagine that the Grand Annual would be an obvious target. You'd like to think that he'll keep progressing on the better ground in the spring, like he did last year."

Meanwhile, Ted Walsh's Seabass, as low as 12/1 co-favourite to go two places better than last year's third in the Aintree Grand National on April 6 following his runner-up finish over hurdles at Fairyhouse on Tuesday, has been allotted 10st 11lb in the valuable handicap chase at Kempton on Saturday fortnight.

The Kill handler's in-form Colbert Station currently has 10st 6lb in the three-miler.

Irish Independent

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